California adopted a law on Thursday aimed at dramatically reducing non-recyclable plastic packaging and expanded polystyrene within ten years. The implementation and funding of this legislation is the responsibility of industry.
The text, adopted this week by Californian elected officials and ratified by Governor Gavin Newsom, stipulates that at least 30% of plastic packaging sold or used in California must be recyclable by 2028, a proportion which must be at least less than 65% on January 1, 2032. The incineration or conversion of this waste into fuel is not an accepted form of ‘recycling’.
The law also tackles the pollution of expanded polystyrene food packaging, frequently used in the United States in take-out restaurants for cups or dishes. Unless producers are able to prove that at least 25% of this packaging is recyclable by 2025, it will no longer be able to be used in the state at all.
For environmentalists, this goal is impossible to achieve, which for them amounts to a ‘de facto ban’ on polystyrene food packaging. “This is the most demanding legislation in the country for the reduction of plastic waste,” welcomed the environmental NGO The Nature Conservancy.
In California, a wealthy state that wants to be at the forefront of environmental protection, around 85% of plastic waste escapes recycling and ends up in landfills. In 2021, this rate was only 5% for the whole of the United States.
The new Californian law does not just lay down rules for recycling, it makes manufacturers directly responsible for the implementation and financing of these measures.
“Reducing plastic pollution at the source will at the same time reduce emissions into the air and water and reduce the plastic dumped in our oceans,” wrote the NGO Oceana on Twitter.
Companies or ‘entities’ that do not comply with this law are liable to fines of 50,000 dollars per day.